By Ousman Drammeh
This makes me to ask the question: Do the Government of The Gambia and her development partners really believe in the adage of Nelson Mandela which says: “Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world?” Is The Gambia ready to be change agents in the global spectrum or just want to remain as mere spectators?
Despite, The Gambia Education Policy 2016 – 2030 being aligned with SDG 4: Education, focusing on accessible, equitable, and inclusive quality education for all. The attainment of the quality education has still been a nightmare for almost 6 years now after the implementation of the Policy.
Over the years, we have witnessed series of blame games from the citizens. Teachers have been the victim of the blame game. Do they forget about the most famous adage: “You can take a donkey to a river but you can’t force it to drink”… This has been the funniest situation that teachers found themselves with no alternative. Wanting to prepare someone to be better than you in the near future but he or she doesn’t want to be that better person is one of the most tedious works to do. This would leave you with no other choice than to be a stranger to the person you wish to help because if you insist on helping, you might be booked for violation of the Education Policy. Even God dedicates His Time to help those who want to help themselves in Godly ways. The teachers do the preaching and it is left to the students to follow or not because distinction has been drawn between the teachers and students just like the carving of Africa at Berlin, Germany.
Those who apportioned the blames to the teachers failed to realise what teachers go through in ensuring that students are made in their own images rather than the images of the stereotyped teachers. Because of the negative label, even students do not want to take the noble profession of TEACHING as a rewarding CAREER in life. Teachers should not be the main public enemies in the falling standard of Academic Performance in THE TEACHING FRATERNITY. Those who have eyes like EAGLES can remove the CHAFFS from the GRAINS with a clear view of the realities on the ground.
Acknowledging and recognising the efforts of GAMBIAN TEACHERS is the HOLIEST STEP in correcting the DILAPIDATED EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM whose end products keep on recruiting MASS FAILURES.
Organising termly Coordinating Committee Meeting (CCM) will not solve this menace if stakeholders fail to *worship* (figuratively) teachers as the MOST LEXICAL DRIVERS of any Education System. The Administration and Management in the Educational Fortresses should realize that teachers are the tools for the salvation of any and should be on top of the SCALE OF PREFERENCE knowing that we have a nation to build.
Karl Marx once said: “RELIGION IS THE OPIUM OF THE PEOPLE”. I would like to borrow from his wisdom to say: “The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), and The Gambia Teachers’ Union (GTU) are the opium of the teachers”. They give no credit and recognition to teachers particularly their welfare. So tell me, how do you expect the NATION to see TEACHERS? It’s often said that if your efforts and sacrifices are not recognized and appreciated by your immediate family members, then who cares about you even if you die. My ancestors do say that the truth is bitter but when it is due, don’t hesitate to say it with confidence and pride to clear your conscience. Socrates must have said it, destructive truths are better not to be said but this is a rehabilitation truth which must be said in other to carve a new map for The Gambia Education System.
Students have devalued Education for social medias believing that if you are not socially networking, you are defeated in life. It used to be said: “Education is The Key to Success in Life” but nowadays students have now thrown the key to success into the Atlantic Ocean assuming that even the greatest successes in life do not require Education. Students prefer to spend the whole day on social media platforms than spending one hour on their course work.
Parents want the shortcut in educating their children but do not want to pay the price of Education. Supporting their children’s education financially has now been a no-go area since the Ministry said – Free primary and secondary education for all. They decided to leave all in the hands of the Ministry who cannot do it all. Parents have forgotten that – If they think education is expensive, let them try ignorance for their children and allow the end to justify. Parents are one of the most important pillars in ensuring Academic Performance because students spend their lion share of time at home. This is strengthened by the saying: “Home is the first educational institution and a mother is the first teacher in life. Parents need to encourage their children to take on their Education seriously. It is often said: “There is no better encouragement than the one that comes from parents”. Parents should ensure the Education of their children is taken care of today so as to live the life of PARADISE INMATES in the near future.
I’m not exonerating teachers from the entire show but it’s not just right to give them the lion’s share of the blame. Truth be told, teachers are part of the ingredients that lead to the MASS FAILURES but not to the extent as portrayed by others. How can you send a farm labourer to your farm without empowering him with the necessary tools to carry out the farm work effectively and efficiently. Lack of teaching and learning materials pose a serious problem in delivery of lessons.
Although, the qualification and competence of some teachers do give me a DAYLIGHT HEADACHE of wondering whether they have passed through the COLLEGE or they have just allowed the COLLEGE to pass through them. Competency matters a lot in the BATTLE FIELD OF TEACHING because knowledge needs to be transferred. This further strengthened the famous saying: “You Can Only Give What You Have”. Meaning, as a teacher, you need to have at least a mastery of your subject area because the students are expected to eat from your meal. This can be achieved through timely preparations as it is often said: “EFFECTIVE PREPARATIONS PREVENT FAILURES.”
It’s high time to tighten the entrance gate of The Gambia College. Standards of entrance should not be compromised no matter whose son or daughter comes for admission. The popular saying: “THERE ARE BACK-WAYS TO ENTER COLLEGE” should be abolished like SLAVE TRADE. The Gambia College being known to be the only institution responsible for the manufacturing of teachers to finish goods needs to be sanitised. If these teachers are not well nourished with the proper balance diet, when they go out to serve, they would give MALNUTRITION to the students. Despite being privatised and engulfed into the business venture of profit making, this should not warrant them to neglect standards. The qualification and competence of lecturers manning courses should be scrutinized not just based on qualification but also mastery. The level of lecturers you have at The Gambia College would greatly reflect the subject mastery of teachers in the system.
Finally, it is our individual and collective responsibilities in resuscitating the Education System of The Gambia. The failure of the Education System is the failure of the entire nation and no one should be left behind in the fight for a Standardized Education System that breeds Positive Results for The Gambia. All stakeholders should board the vehicle of transforming the education system.